I’ve written here before, as a Missouri tractor-trailer accident lawyer, about the federal government’s use of Missouri as an example in its crusade for a nationwide ban on texting while driving. The crash took place in Franklin County in 2010, and was attributed to the actions of a 19-year-old driver who was texting while driving a pickup truck and failed to notice traffic slowing ahead. That triggered a chain-reaction crash in which he slammed into a big rig, then was hit from behind by two school buses taking high schoolers on a band trip. Ultimately, the accident killed the pickup driver and one student, and injured 38 others. The National Transportation Safety Board cited the tragedy when it called for states to ban all texting behind the wheel. But according to a May 5 article from the Associated Press, Missouri itself has repeatedly failed to pass bills that would extend its texting ban to drivers older than 21.
Missouri’s current law, passed in 2009, applies to drivers 21 and younger. Five Missouri cities have bans for drivers of all ages, siding with 37 states across the U.S. A state representative, Don Wells, R-Cabool, proposed anti-texting legislation in the state House this year, but the measure was not successful. Opponents of that bill argued that drivers can already be charged with violating their obligation for “careful and prudent” driving, so no second law is needed. A spokesman for Missouri’s state troopers said these aren’t the same, noting that officers must be able to see the driver doing something unsafe in addition to texting, and that it’s hard to tell at a glance whether a driver is 21 or 22. For those reasons, the state Highway Patrol supports a full ban. The state Senate also debated but is not expected to pass a law banning all distracted driving, but opponents there argued that police officers might abuse it to issue unnecessary tickets.
As a St. Louis semi truck accident attorney, I disagree strongly that tickets issued to distracted drivers are unnecessary. We rely on law enforcement officers to use their judgment every day, about issues like probable cause for a search or whether a driver shows enough signs of intoxication to require a breath test. Surely, if we trust them with these judgment calls, we can also trust them to determine whether a driver is truly distracted or just happens to have a phone lying in the vehicle’s center console. Texting while driving is dangerous for everyone, but it’s particularly concerning with drivers of large commercial trucks, because those trucks are so large and heavy. One study found that in the time it took to send a text message, a large truck could travel the length of a football field at highway speeds — without the driver’s eyes on the road! This behavior endangers every unsuspecting motorist who just happens to be around the texting trucker.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we focus our practice on accidents with large trucks because we understand just how dangerous they can be. When vehicles are the same size, both drivers can often walk away from a relatively low-speed crash. When one is many times the size of the other, however, the same crash can cause death or devastating permanent injuries. Our southern Illinois 18-wheeler accident lawyers help clients who were injured in this kind of crash, and their families, recover fair financial compensation from truck drivers and trucking companies whose negligence caused the crash. In a trucking accident lawsuit, injured people and their families can recover all the past and future financial costs of the crash, including the steep cost of long-term care or acute care and a lifetime of lost wages. They can also recover compensation for their personal and emotional losses, such as permanent disability or loss of a loved one.
If your family has suffered a serious accident because of a trucking company’s or trucker’s carelessness, Carey, Danis & Lowe can help. For a free, confidential case evaluation, call us today at 1-877-678-3400 or send us a message online.
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